The reason that I can't be harsh on soldiers in the field is that I know too many of them. Going to a lot of shows/raves/rock shows in the past ten years I've made a lot of friends with people much younger than me, and some of them went into the military. I don't know -- yet -- anyone who has died in Iraq, and I hope I never do. But to criticize or ridicule people who choose to join the military is every bit as prejudiced as criticizing or ridiculing people for being gay. They're just not a monolithic group of people who all think alike.
That being said, I have always hated the United States Military. Unlike anyone likely to read this, I remember the Vietnam War vividly. My Uncle Chuck at the time went into the Air Force Reserve to avoid being drafted, and was involved in the anti-war movement while called up on active duty by Lyndon Johnson. He was one of many active duty soldiers who defied orders to march, in uniform, in protests in San Francisco. For doing that he spent months confined to quarters, doing jobs like painting rocks. The military appeals to idealism and patriotism in young people, but the sad fact is that it rewards unthinking obedience and an appetite for violence.
The political leaders who start wars may ultimately be to blame for getting us into pointless violent conflicts, but if you talk to anyone who has served, there is a lot of blame to go around all up and down the military chain of command for stupidity, bloody-mindedness, and evil. To blame the rank and file soldier for anything that goes on -- unless, of course, they're personally responsible for an atrocity of some sort -- is unfair. They're doing what they've been told all their lives is right. They're, by and large, honest and honorable people who play by the rules, and think they're serving a patriotic ideal.
The way that people like George Bush and Dick Cheney have exploited their idealism and courage is purely criminal.
I'm a pacifist -- ever since the Vietnam war, when I was 11 years old and going door to door for Eugene McCarthy. I've had some long debates on pacifism that we don't need to recapitulate here. But the history of American warfare in the last 50 years has been one long clusterfuck of unnecessary conflicts for bullshit reasons -- Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan. I think that we have a chance now, as international political and economic interdependence makes war less and less attractive as a political tactic, to really make large-scale wars an obsolete concept. But then we have people like Bush and the neocons who have made an unending war against a phantom enemy an all purpose excuse for consolidating their power. That is a crime. They've sent idealistic young people to their deaths to serve their own ambitions, and it almost makes me hope there's a Hell so they can burn in it.